Warning of impact of £73m cuts on Norfolk’s disabled people

Mark Harrison, CEO of Equal Lives.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mark Harrison, CEO of Equal Lives.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A disability rights organisation has warned that worst case scenario cuts of £73m in spending on adult social care could leave some of Norfolk's most vulnerable people 'dejected and abandoned'.

Norfolk County Council needs to make £111m of savings over three years, so every committee has been asked to plan to be spending 25pc less in three years time.

That would save £169m, so not all the cuts and savings proposed will happen, but councillors wanted options so they have some element of choice.

If the deepest cuts to adult social care are agreed, it would mean some 2,700 fewer people, including older people and the disabled, would get social care directly from Norfolk County Council.

Transport to get people to services could be stopped and there is likely to be a dramatic shift away from residential care to care in the community.

Leaders at County Hall acknowledged savings on an 'eye-watering scale' would have to be made and that services had to be redesigned.

But Norfolk' disabled people's organisation Equal Lives said the council's proposal to promote independent living neglected to address any of the support channels needed to do so.

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The charity said it backs the principal of keeping people independent, but that would only work if properly resourced.

And its chief executive Mark Harrison accused the authority of failing to engage with ideas put forward by Equal Lives for getting better outcomes for people more cost effectively.

Mr Harrison said: 'Independence is about empowerment not abandonment. The council seem to want all the benefits of independent living but are unwilling to put any proper support into place to facilitate this, which in turn is leaving people feeling utterly dejected and abandoned.

'These cuts are affecting real people's everyday lives. They have removed so many of the prevention services and well-being aspects of people's social care packages.'

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council, said: 'As part of our Reimagining Norfolk process we have engaged with Equal Lives and we will continue to engage with them regarding our budget consultation, which they, as well as the rest of Norfolk, will be able to partake in this autumn.'

Decisions on what proposals to put out for public consultation will be made by the council's policy and resources committee next Monday, and Equal Lives have signalled they intend to protest outside County Hall that day.

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